Priceless Paper

From a distance, the yellowed, typewriter written, tattered papers appear to be nothing impressive .  But the information contained on those papers is what makes them amongst my most cherished possessions.  It is the only window I have into an unknown part of my life.  The only knowledge about my biological past.  My adoption papers.

The sketchy information does not even come close to telling the entire picture about the beginning of my life, but it’s enough for me to read between the lines to create a story in my mind.  Enough to take the blank slate and provide some understanding of the circumstances surrounding my birth and what makes me the person I am.

The first page of the paperwork contains details about my biological parents.  The brief description – only a few lines total – is the most valuable information to me.  I can peruse the traits and see glimpses of myself in the presentment, especially in the features and personality of my biological father.  “Green eyes, dark brown naturally curly hair, dark complexion” could readily describe me.  I like to think I also am somewhat “outgoing, happy-go-lucky and have a good sense of humor” which is how my biological father’s personality is portrayed.

My biological mother is also described as having brown hair but with brown eyes, and no curls.  From reading her description, however, I know where I got my left-handedness.  Drawing is listed as an interest.  Perhaps that is where my son, Jake, got his love of art.  Her personality is depicted as “moody, quiet and lazy.”  I choose to envision that she was understandably moody because of the turmoil she was feeling over giving me up for adoption.  She was uncharacteristically quiet.  Pensive, wistfully wondering what “could have been” under different circumstances.  She was not lazy, just weary.  Fatigued and distressed about the toll pregnancy was taking on her body – and soul – for a baby she was not going to raise.

“Completed high school” is listed as the education for both, with the addition of “anticipates furthering her education” for my biological mother.  From this, I deduced that the pregnancy occurred during their senior year of high school and I was born the October after they graduated.  In another area of the paperwork, it states that pre-natal care began in mid-June.  I concluded that the pregnancy was concealed from her classmates, and most likely her parents, until after graduation to reduce the embarrassment of her predicament.  I wonder if either did go on to attend college after the adoption.

Some of the other tidbits of information tend to cause more questions than answers.  The papers state that I wasn’t given baby formula for the first time until three days after birth.  What happened during those first days of my life?  Was I still with my biological mother during that time?  What other explanation could there be for the delay in receiving formula?  My adoption wasn’t finalized until the end of January, more than three months after I was born.  I believe I was in a foster home during this time.  Was I living at a private residence or a group home?  Who were the kind people who took care of me?  What were they like?

Most of the remaining information is mundane medical records and daily routines.  But to me it is precious.  I don’t have anyone with whom to discuss those first three months.  No one to tell me how often I ate,  how I reacted to bath time, that I made a “coo” sound when I laughed.  These type-written words are all I have.

Will I meet my biological mother and father one day?  Perhaps.  There are so many questions that these papers can never answer.  Maybe one day I will try to fill in the gaps left by the words that are not written. But for now, when I feel overwhelmed by all the unknown, I will pull out the worn, aged papers and look for a clue I may have previously missed.  A clue to my biological past.  A clue to my adoption story.

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You may have noticed I only reference the parents who created me as my biological mother and father.  Not Mother and Father.  Not Mom and Dad.  I will always be grateful to the people described on those pages for making the difficult decision to give me to someone who could provide a better life for me.  But my adoptive parents were, and always will be my Mom and Dad.

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I’m so excited that this post was featured on the Freshly Pressed page.  Thanks WordPress for the recognition!  http://wordpress.com/#!/fresh/

57 thoughts on “Priceless Paper”

    1. You are too sweet Heather! I saw information earlier in the week about the DP Weekly Challenge and decided to give it a try. But apparently I don’t like being “told” what to write about. LOL I sat down several times but couldn’t come up with anything for “my favorite things.” Last night, I decided the “challenge” of being given a topic just wasn’t for me. I woke very early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so finally got up and decided I wanted to make one last attempt to write something before the “deadline.” And the words just came out. Maybe I should get up really early more often. Or not.

    1. Thank you so much! It was the first time I wrote for a specific “topic” for that weekly challenge. It was cathartic.

      Oh, and I did go visit your blog and loved the entry about the obsessive “likers.” But I didn’t want to press like because, you know, then I would have seemed like one of them. 😉 I enjoyed your writing style though and look forward to reading more.

  1. Great look at something that has literally no monetary value to the world, but is priceless to the individual… that kind of value is what makes owning things unimportant, it’s what they represent and the memories they invoke. Nice job, and congrats on being FP’d

    1. Thank you for the kind words. When I saw the DP challenge topic of “a few of my favorite things,” my first thought was that I didn’t have any possessions important enough to write about. If I ever needed to quickly evacuate, there really isn’t much I’d try to grab other than photos (and my family, of course!). But then I realized there are a lot of definitions for “things.” The adoption papers seemed to be the perfect choice! Thanks for taking the time to read my story!

  2. This was so poignant. Very striking. Yet very honest and simple. I guess I was moved because of that. The little details and questions that you enumerate all over led me through your dilemmas. I thought the end about your Mom and Dad was lovely.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and posting such a kind response. I was very fortunate to be raised in a loving family and will always be grateful to my birth parents for making the decision to put me up for adoption if they felt they could not provide that for me.

    1. Thank you so much! It is not a subject I talk about much, so it was a bit difficult to write about. But as I always joke, find a subject I don’t feel comfortable talking about with my best friend…and I will spill my guts about it in a blog!

    1. Thanks Teri. It’s not something Mom and I ever discussed much. She actually just gave me the papers not too long before she passed away (when she was packing up to move in with Mike).

  3. My family was recently reunited, 48 years later, with my brother who was adopted out at birth. One of the most striking things he tells me is “oh, so *that’s* where I got [fill in the blank] from.”

    I am every day amazed at how alike my brother and I are for having spent our entire lives apart, and myself only vaguely aware he existed, and he having no idea I did.

    If you ever do meet your biological family, I hope that the reunion is as sweet as my family’s has been.

    1. That is so wonderful that you had such a happy reunion and have a chance to know your brother. That is one of the burning questions I have – do I have other siblings? And whether they know anything about me or not! I can totally hear myself saying exactly what he said. When I look at my own children, I feel like I am constantly looking for similarities between them and me. Probably because I was never able to do that when I was growing up!

      Just curious, did your brother find you or did you locate him?

      1. He found us, though it was a small miracle that he was able to. He was born and adopted through a Salvation Army clinic rather than a regular hospital, and they were able to somehow track down my (our!) mother despite not having her social security number and her last name had changed!

  4. I wonder if things would have been different for me had there been paper like this on my biological parents. But there is paper on them. I’ve seen a little slip of paper my dad keeps his wallet with the 2 names that he quickly read upside down on the day it became finally final, I was 1 year old. That little slip led me down a rabbit hole. I held some weird belief that meeting them would in some way complete me. It didn’t. It wasn’t awful, just different, and definitely not what I expected. I like the way you are keeping it real, keep us informed on your journey with this.

    1. I’ve had those thoughts. What if meeting them was a disaster. Part of me feels that the “story” I have in my head is at least a somewhat happy scenario. Reality could be very hard pill to swallow if things didn’t go well. Thanks for taking the time to read!

  5. This is lovely. As someone who might be considering adopting a child, I think your words about both sets of parents show how big your heart is. Whoever your biological parents are, I think they’d be happy to know you have the maturity and compassion that you do.

    1. That is so of you to say. While I have a lot of questions about it, deep down I will always be grateful to my birth parents for making the choice they did so I could grow up in a home that could provide what they couldn’t (for whatever reason). I don’t really consider them my “family” though. My adoptive family is my true family. Best of luck to you with the adoption process! If you ever have any questions that you’d like answered from the adopted child’s perspective, feel free to ask!

    1. Thank you for quoting my post on your blog…but please refer your readers back to the original source “momopolize.com” instead of “amazing post from an adopted kid.” And, while I like to feel I’m young at heart, I am definitely not a kid anymore. Thanks in advance for giving credit where credit is due.

  6. My Dad died in 1988, and Mum died in 1999. In 2002 I discovered my real Father (no one had told me Dad wasn’t my Father), and he died a few years later.

    I had been robbed of many years contact with many cousins, uncles and aunties. But it was great to meet my actual Father and see where my sense of humor came from.

    Very handy for my cartoon work in recent years. http://www.cartoonmick.wordpress.com

    Cheers

    Mick

  7. Very nicely written. The dilemma of whether to try to find birth parents is a difficult one to have to make – will they be nice, will they be people you could get to like? When I was younger I would have said ‘find them’ to any of my friends who asked, but now I know that sometimes they don’t want to be found, and surely that is the most heartbreaking end of all.

  8. What a beautiful, emotional post. Thank you for sharing it. It’s amazing how much you can learn from just a few words, and also how much you can tell and feel from what is unsaid, the spaces in-between. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, glad to share the page with you!

    1. Thank you! The first time I opened that folder (a few years ago) was like opening another part of my life! Up until then, I had mainly thought about meeting my birth mother and had only ever thought about potentially searching for her one day. After seeing information about my biological father, I realized I am probably more like him and I wondered why I never thought more about meeting him before seeing that information. Hopefully we will be Freshly Pressed again one day! It’s been a fun ride!

    1. This was a difficult topic to write about. I tried several times to start the blog entry, but the words just wouldn’t come out right. I think it is hard to write about something that is such an important part of your life…you want the end result to be “perfect.” Finally, early Friday morning the words started flowing! Thanks for taking the time to read it!

  9. I would have done the same thing: to recognize your “adoptive parents” as your mother and father or Mom and Dad. I sympathize with you; nonetheless, I am aware that you can well cope with this plight with the way you are taking all of these things.

    May you and your bioligical parents’ paths meet one day.

    PS

    Congratulations for being Freshly Pressed!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! The older I get, the more I feel like I will look for them one day. Would be nice to complete the story with answers from them, instead of papers.

  10. I found your blog because it was freshly pressed, but it was the visual, the old piece of paper, that caught my eye. I’m so glad it did! I too was adopted, and you have inspired me to write about it, because before I read your post I didn’t feel I had anything new to say on the topic, now I’m thinking maybe I do. I will definitely link to you when I do. Thanks for sharing your personal stories! Jaye

    1. Please let me know if you do write about it. I’d love to read it! I was happy with how my photo of the papers turned out (I’m normally a terrible photographer!). I wanted a simple photo to represent the “simple papers” that are actually so complicated!

  11. I get this. I really get this. I have some of those papers, too, because I am adopted. When you have so few things that represent your history from that point, they do become priceless treasures. Thank you for sharing this beautiful essay!

    1. I’m glad you were able to relate to my post! I think there are certain aspects of being adopted that you can’t completely explain to someone that isn’t adopted. Seeing parts of me when I look at my children is something I never take for granted, because it’s not something I was able to experience while growing up. Do you think you will ever search for your birth parents?

  12. I love how the post helps you really imagine the paperwork, like you’re really holding it with your own hands and reading it, and thinking everything that you thought.

    I actually tried reading the writing in the picture you displayed at the top, and now I’m really curious about what the infant’s (aka your) “strong average to above average” is referring to. And how many pages it is, because you made reference to “on the first page”…

    Ah well. Don’t feel you have to share if you don’t want to. I just can’t help but to try to picture it more clearly, and figure out what it would be like…

    1. So sorry for the delayed response! I didn’t see the pending notification for your comment! I think it is fantastic that you got emotionally involved enough to want to get a bigger picture in your mind also! I will see what the exact wording is on the papers and post another comment (it is pretty vague…something like “infant tested strong average to above average” but didn’t really say what the “testing” was. lol).

      Thanks for taking the time to read and for your kind comment. I will post more details tomorrow and, again, apologies for taking so long to respond!!

  13. Hello again, I just read your ” sick and tired list ” and was compelled to read some more of your posts. And let me just say – If you are not a writer; you should be. I was so drawn in by your words and I am left …wanting more! Very nicen though as it is not fiction and is your life. I feel more compelled to share with you that I am a Birth Mother. And as promised to me when I was 15 ( just a bit shy of his 18th year) I got that call I had held my breath everyday for. And today, I breathe with joy & understanding & the deepest Love & Loss & Grace. I am overflowing. He even had 2 Dances with his 2 Mom’s @ his wedding. Please let me know if I can help u in anyway

    1. What a wonderful story! I love, love, love that there were 2 mother/son dances at the wedding. That is just awesome! We surely do have a lot in common!!! Thank you for your kind words about my writing. It really means a lot to me. I would love to write more. I’m new to blogging and have really enjoyed it. It is tough though to “put yourself out there” with writing, so compliments like yours are what helps keep me going!!!

  14. Angela, even though I was young at the time, I was old enough to remember just how THRILLED your Mom and Dad were when they found out they’d be getting you. OMG. They loved their boys, but they wanted a girl too. I can remember the first time I saw you. Everyone was “oowing and aahing”, saying how beautiful you were and what pretty eyes you had. I remember all the pictures of you on their mantel. I don’t remember my other cousins like that, but I remember you …and for the record, I’m not old 🙂 – just a tad older than you …or maybe a couple of tads … but old enough that I do remember.

    Perhaps the reason for not forgetting your arrival is because I NEEDED you. You see, your Mom needed a girl BAD, and here’s why. She had this thing about brushing hair. Every time they would come to Granny’s house, I swear your Mom would greet me with a little white hair brush, … and I knew the drill. She would sit in the wooden rocker by the TV in Granny’s sitting room and have me sit on a stool in front of her … so she could brush my hair. Now granted, I had thick curly hair, like yours, and getting a brush through my hair was no walk in the park. And, for whatever reason, my Mom never came to my “rescue,” she’d just watch. Now the piece to this puzzle I need to research is: … who brought the brush? Did it come from Berryville or did Mom provide it?? Hmmm.

    With all that said, I was excited to have a new baby GIRL cousin! And…in case you’re wondering, if you ever have a yearning to brush your boys’ hair …well, now you know the story … that came from your Mama! 🙂

  15. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.

  16. I can’t even imagine how any of that feels. Coming from a big, troubled family I always secretly wished I were adopted but of course I cannot even imagine what not knowing that information is like. One thing for sure, it sounds like you were adopted into quite an amazing family, who clearly did a great job raising you.

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